AM Pilates Studio

Located in Las Vegas, NV USA 702-339-2809


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Got a Pain in the Neck? A Pooch? A Hunchback?

 Do these 7 easy steps to relieve

Neck and shoulder tightness and pain,

Improve your posture and

Strengthen your core with…

The Blooming Flower

Hands on the back of the head. Sit up tall.

Blooming Flower-Step 1
Place your hands on the back of the head. Sit up tall and gently bring your belly to your spine.


Blooming Flower -Step 2 Inhale - bringing your shoulders to your ears.

Blooming Flower -Step 2
Inhale – Gently press your head into your hands feeling your muscles activate in the back of the neck and surrounding the spine. Raise your shoulders to your ears. Continue to sit tall with belly to the spine through the steps.


Blooming Flower - Step 3 Exhale-Release hands from head and float arms down keeping shoulders open and elbows forward. You should feel your shoulder blades (scapula) against your back.

Blooming Flower – Step 3
Exhale-Keep your head lifted, feeling your muscles down your spine.       Release hands from head and float arms down keeping shoulders open and elbows forward.
You should feel your shoulder blades (scapula) against your back.


Blooming Flower - Step 4 Continue Exhaling and floating arms down until they are straight, keeping palms facing up.

Blooming Flower – Step 4
Continue Exhaling and floating arms down until they are straight, keeping palms facing up.


Step 4 Cont.

Step 4 Cont.


Blooming Flower-Step 5 Inhale-Place the back of your hands on your low back.

Blooming Flower-Step 5
Inhale-Place the back of your hands on your low back. Keep your head lifted.


Blooming Flower- Step 6 Exhale-Keeping back of hands on back of hips, gently press your elbows forward.  You should feel a stretch deep in your shoulders.  These are your rotator cuffs-small muscles that are often neglected.

Blooming Flower- Step 6
Exhale-Keeping back of hands on back of hips, gently press your elbows forward.
You should feel a stretch deep in your shoulders.
These are your rotator cuffs-small muscles that are often neglected.


Blooming Flower-Step 7 Drop your chin to your chest and breath slowly in and out. Allow your neck to stretch. Roll your head from side to side to increase the stretch in your upper trapezius muscle-the muscle that is the main culprit for neck and shoulder tightness.

Blooming Flower-Step 7
Drop your chin to your chest and breath slowly in and out. Allow your neck to stretch. Roll your head from side to side to increase the stretch in your upper trapezius muscle-the muscle that is the main culprit for neck and shoulder tightness.

Do this short, easy routine a few times a day

anytime, anywhere!

  • If you have any questions, please call or text me at 702-339-2809. I am happy to speak with you about your unique, amazing body and how you can most efficiently use this awesome creation!

Sincerely,

Alison Marsh


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DIY (Do It Yourself) Stretching and Strengthening Routine!

AM Pilates & Posture:
Basic Stretching and Strengthening Routine

*For your safety, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

 Tips For getting the most from your routine:

1. Warm Up 5-10 minutes before this stretching routine.

  •  Brisk Walk or Jog (treadmill or neighborhood)
  •  Jumping jacks, march in place
  •  Jog up and down the stairs
  •  Stationary Bike
  •  Dance! (This is probably the quickest way to warm up because your moving your whole body and keeping it guessing)
  •  A Warm Shower will also suffice IF you don’t have another option.

 2. Breath Through Stretches 20-30 seconds

 How to Breath:

A. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)

  • Back of the ribs should expand
  • Allow the chest to rise,
  • The front of the ribs should drop down by keeping the belly softly back
  • (This is Pilates breathing-allowing for continuous engagement of the abs.)

B. Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs of the air like deflating a balloon

  • Back of the ribs should close in
  • Belly sinks back further

3. Engage Abdominals (Belly to the Spine) primarily before and during movement from one position to the other. Remain aware of Belly to the Spine throughout stretches and exercises.

4. Use an oppositional pull through the stretch. Like a rubber band needs to be pulled in opposite directions to stretch, our muscles get the most stretch when we use opposition. Ex: In the Hamstring stretch, pull your leg toward your chest as you reach your hip to the ground.

5. Relax into the stretch. Stretch far enough that you can feel it, but not to the point of pain! These stretches should feel good. If you can’t relax into the stretch, you are going too far!

1. Lower Body Stretches Laying on your Back (Supine) on a Mat or Hard surface

1.1 Knee to Chest

1.1 Knee to Chest

7 Stretches

1.1- Knee to Chest

· Stretches Hips, Glutes (butt muscles), and Lower back preparing body for lower body stretches
· Start both knees bent, feet flat on floor

Steps:

1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands
2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor as you pull knee in closer
3) Repeat with other leg
4) Engaging Abdominals, slowly bring both knees into your chest and hug the knees. You can come into a contraction bringing the head and shoulders up to open the spine.

1.2- Twist Stretch

1.2 Twist Stretch

1.2 Twist Stretch

· Stretches low back and sides of the low back, Hips, Chest

· Start with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor.

Steps:
1) Engage Abdominals and bring one knee to the chest with your hands

2) Slowly lengthen (straighten) opposite leg along floor
3) Take opposite hand of knee that is up and gently pull knee across the body.
4) Engage Abdominals to return and repeat on the other side

*The following 3 stretches are to be done with a Resistance Band or belt around the foot

1.3 Hamstrings

1.3 Hamstrings Step 1

1.3 Hamstrings Step 3 Parallel

1.3 Hamstrings Step 2

1.3 Hamstrings Step 2 45 degrees

1.3 Hamstrings Step 3

1.3 Hamstrings Step 1 Midline

· Stretches back of legs (4 muscles)
· Opposite leg bent or straight (try both)
· Do both Active (moving) and static (still) stretching

Steps:
1) Midline (towards middle of body)
2) 45 ° (Out)
3) Leg Parallel (straight towards you)

1.4- Adductors
· Stretches inner thighs (3 muscles)
· Opposite Leg Bent or Straight (try both) remembering to reach down (rubber band) with the opposite hip

1.4 Adductors

1.4 Adductors

Steps:
1) Leg out to side of body as far as you can go to feel the stretch

2) Engage Abdominals (belly to the spine) before moving leg to next stretch

1.5- IT Band

1.5 IT Band

1.5 IT Band

· Stretches Glutes (3 butt muscles) and IT (Iliotibial) tract or band on the outside of the thigh. May also feel back of knee or hamstrings during this stretch
· Opposite leg straight

Steps:
1) Leg across the body, allowing foot to turn in (sickle)
2) Reach hip of the leg being stretched in the opposite direction (rubber band). Hip should be off of the floor.

1.6 Piriformis Step 2

1.6 Piriformis Step 2

1.6 Glute Step 3

1.6 Glute Step 3

1.6- Piriformis and Glutes (no resistance band)
· Stretches your buttocks
· Opposite leg bent, starting with foot on floor
· Piriformis – one of six rotators in the hip and the only one connected to the pelvis; is commonly one culprit to back pain and/or tightness

Steps:
1) Fold leg over opposite thigh placing ankle over thigh allowing knee to open.
2) Gently Press knee with same hand as leg being stretched (Piriformis stretch)
3) Gently Pull knee towards you (Glute stretch)

1.7 – Quadriceps (no resistance band)
· Stretches thigh muscles in front of leg
· Lay on your side with bottom leg bent for leverage and arm placed where comfortable for support

1.7 Quads

1.7 Quads

Steps:
1) Engage Abs and gently bring top knee in towards you and grab foot with hand
2) Keeping abs engaged, Gently pull foot behind you pressing top hip slightly forward. Should be no pain in the knee
3) Repeat for other leg

2. Spine Stretches and Strengtheners (On Hands and Knees)

All 4s

All 4s

*If being on your hands bothers your wrists, you can modify each exercise by coming down to the forearms for a rest or resting in child’s pose (sitting back on heals).

2.1- Cat Stretch
· Stretches the spine
· On All 4s (Hands and Knees)
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders (just so that chest is not squished)
· Move through ‘mad cat’ and ‘happy cat’ 5-10 times

Steps:
1) Engage Abs (Belly to the Spine)
2) Push into hands rounding back into the sky (mad cat)

Cat Stretch-Mad Cat

Cat Stretch-Mad Cat

2.1 Cat Stretch-Happy Cat

2.1 Cat Stretch-Happy Cat

3) Arch middle of the back opening the chest (happy cat)

2.2- Wag the Tail (no pic yet)

· Creates lateral movement in the spine
· On All 4s
· Hands in line with shoulders

Steps:
1) Keeping spine in neutral position (natural without arching or rounding) move tail (butt) side to side
2) Add Head bringing head to tail side to side

2.3- Oppositional Balance

2.3 Oppositional Balance

2.3 Oppositional Balance

· Strengthens spinal muscles and abdominals
· On all 4s
· Hands a bit wider then shoulders
· Keep focus to the floor (keeps head in line with spine)
· 4-6 times on each side

Steps:
1) Slide opposite hand and foot along the floor away from the body continuing to lift arm and leg off the floor, reaching in opposite directions. Keep arm and leg in line with body (don’t lift too high)
2) Keep reaching for 5-10 seconds
3) Engage the abs and slowly come back to all 4s and repeat on other arm and leg

2.4- Plank to Push-Ups

2.4 Plank/Push-Up Position

2.4 Plank/Push-Up Position

· Super Core Strengthener
· Start on all 4s
· Up onto balls of feet for push-up position, reaching heals back
· Belly to Spine
· Make sure hands are in line with the shoulders
· Keep energy pushing through shoulders and and reaching through heals (think of it as an active position, not a pose)
· Body should make a plank position (no bumps)

Steps:
1) Hold Plank position for as long as possible up to one minute (come to forearms to perform this exercise if the wrists are in pain)
2) Go into Child’s Pose to Rest (Sitting on heels, head and chest down.)
3) Push-Ups-10 each

  • 1-Classic (wide)
  • 2-Diamond with the hands (elbows down to diagonal)
  • 3-Pilates Push-Up (hands under shoulders, fingers pointing forward, elbows straight back)
    2.5 Child's Pose 1

    2.5 Child’s Pose 2

    2.5 Child's Pose 2

    2.5 Child’s Pose 1

2.5 Child’s Pose

1) Relax back into sitting on heals, resting forehead on mat, arms out.

2) Turn head and place arms by your side. Breath and relax. Change the head.

This concludes AM Pilates & Posture’s basic stretching and strengthening routine. This routine is gentle enough to do every day!

For questions or to make an appointment please email: pilatesandposture@gmail.com

Disclaimer:
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any new exercise or stretching routine with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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Tame the Pain of Tendinitis

Adapted from NIH News in Health http://newsinhealth.nih.gov

IMG_7275

4,000

That is the number of tendons you have in your amazingly created body!

Tendons make it possible for us to move-bend down to pick up our kid, reach up to praise God, shake a hand of someone new, turn our head to a familiar voice.

Okay, less sappy: Tendons make it possible to turn a door knob, throw a basket ball at Chucky Cheese (featured pic), fold laundry, etc, etc.

After years and years and years of repeating these life movements, our tendons may develop Tendonitis, an inflammation of these tendons.

The following are ways to help prevent tendonitis:
IMG_7274

Two more tips:

1. Tighten your core Before and During ANY movement

2. Breath!

Go be awesome and tame those tendons!

Contact Alison at

Pilatesandposture@gmail.com


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Did you know…

Did you know that your muscles can’t tell the difference between barbell weight and your body weight?
All your muscles know is time and tension. As long as an exercise is challenging, you shouldn’t have to add weight for your muscles to grow.

From Men’s Health magazine, June 2014
Resource
Your Body Is A Barbell by BJ Gaddour


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Q & A with Elite Synchronized Swimmer Rachael Simon

Rachael Simon, professional Synchronized swimmer/performer at La Reve in Las Vegas
Me:
Hi Rachael!
I need your professional input on some things pertaining to swimming.
1. How is your core strength involved in swimming? Pelvic core, transverse, hams, diaphragm, etc. Anything with the spinal muscles?
2. Cardiovascular? Why would swimming be better then other forms of cardio?
3. Anything else you want to add?

Rachael:
Hey Alison! Well, yes all of these muscles are used I would say- like equipment Pilates, with swimming you are moving through resistance constantly so it lengthens and strengthens muscles simultaneously, with a cardio aspect too.

Core Usage
You are constantly using your core muscles (back and front) to “balance” in the water and move through an unstable medium and stay streamlined. You are also using all these muscles to push and pull in order to both stay afloat and move forward through the water.

Breathing
The breath pattern is very important, so the diaphragm is used a lot- most swimmers have some sort of rhythm to their breath in order to maintain speed (for example, breathing every 3 strokes, making sure to alternate sides),

Common Injuries
I’d say the most common injuries are overuse injuries (rotator cuff is a big one) from the repetition of the strokes. Sometimes hip injuries front the breaststroke kick is also common.
Hope that helps! Big hugs xo

There you have it! Swimming rocks the body!!

20140723-111921-40761956.jpg


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Stretch it OUt!

I never struggled with injury problems because of my preparation –
in particular my stretching.
– Edwin Moses – Olympic Gold Medalist-Track and Field

During my days at Follies, where I performed as an acro-dancer (a dancer who does gymnastics in the show) I was one of only a few dancers on stage 30 min before show time running around the stage to warm-up. After about 5 min. of running I would plop on the floor and begin my stretching warm-up.

Folies Bergere: The Can-Can Dress

Folies Bergere: The Can-Can Dress

Unlike most of the dancers in the show, I am not naturally limber. I have always had to work at getting my splits and back-bends, and properly prepare my body for what it was about to endure: jumping, running, leaping, tumbling, with sharp directional changes, mostly in heals, except for the tumbling number: The Can-Can, which required us to wear a ten pound dress (see pic).

Everybody is different

So why are some people more flexible than others? There are several factors when it comes to how flexible someone is.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Life-style (how active a person is) certainly affect how flexible a person is.
  • Some people genetically have more limber joints.
  • People who tend to live care-free lives tend to be more limber due to decreased muscle tension.

Being too limber can cause issues. If the joints and ligaments are too loose, they fail to properly support the body.

For example, during pregnancy, hormones flood the body preparing for the growing fetus and the birth. Therefore, pregnant woman are more prone to strains and sprains.  (Click Here for more on Pilates during pregnancy)

I have had clients who come to me with flexible joints, but tight muscles. With these clients we work towards stabilizing the joints through muscle control and proper stretching which I discuss below.

Why Stretch?

Stretching is the best thing you can do for your body (in addition to other healthy lifestyle choices such as cardiovascular training, proper diet, and healthy relationships.) Experts say, if you don’t do anything else, just stretch! It is the most natural movement the body engages in.

Let’s think about an animal; cat or dog, maybe. Whats one of the first things they do after a sleep session? They reach their front legs out in front of them and reach their tails behind them, lengthening their spines, preparing to move! Humans also instinctively do this when they reach their arms up to the sky after a long nights sleep.

We are constantly using our muscles for activities of daily living (ADLs).

  • Walking requires the use of the core, upper and lower limbs.
  • Driving requires the use of the upper body, legs and feet.
  • Dressing and Grooming requires coordination, balance, and use of the upper limbs
  • Parents with babies and/or toddlers endure the constant increase of weight of the baby.
  • Yard work, laundry, dishes

This list could go on and on. Consider also your profession. What specific movements (or non-movements) are you engaging in? All of this constant repetitive motion with no relief puts the body at serious risk for pain and injury.

Here a just a few of the many Benefits of Stretching:

  • Increased Energy-Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, helping us to feel alert
  • Reduced pain-many sources of pain come from tight muscles
  • Improved Posture-tight muscles restrict the spine
  • Prevent Injury-stretched muscles bounce back – think of wet clay vs. hard clay
  • Reduce Stress-Stretching relaxes the muscles and the mind!
  • Slim Down-Stretching lengthens muscle tissue, resulting in lean muscle
  • Overall Positive Sense of Well-Being – We were created to MOVE People!!

How to stretch?

Here are some tips to stretch safely and effectively:

1. Always warm up the body before stretching. 5-10 min of cardio to warm the muscles will suffice. Click here for cardio ideas.

2. Breath Through Stretches 20-30 seconds

How to Breath:

1. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)

  • Back of the ribs should expand
  • Allow the chest to rise,
  • The front of the ribs should drop down by keeping the belly softly back
  • (This is Pilates breathing-allowing for continuous engagement of the abs.)

2. Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs of the air like deflating a balloon

  • Back of the ribs should close in
  • Belly sinks back further

3. Engage Abdominals (Belly to the Spine) primarily before and during movement from one position to the other. Remain aware of Belly to the Spine throughout stretches and exercises.

4. Think of your muscles like rubber bands. To achieve the most efficient stretch you have to achieve oppositional pull; pulling each end of the muscle you are stretching away from each other.

5. Relax into your stretch. If the stretch is too painful, you will clench up, defeating the purpose of stretching.

There are several ways to stretch.

Here is one of my favorite stretches for the chest, hips, and back-Twist Stretch!

Twist Stretch-Step 1-Bring Knee to Chest

Twist Stretch-Step 1-Bring Knee to Chest

Twist Stretch -Step 2-Knee across the body, hip up. Opposite shoulder on floor (is the goal)

Twist Stretch -Step 2-Knee across the body, hip up. Opposite shoulder on floor (is the goal)

Below is a picture of me stretching over a big ball-an amazing all over stretch. (Bend Knees to modify)

Stretchin' it OUt!

Stretchin’ it OUt on the big ball.

Click Here for a great stretch to target those tight shoulders that plague almost all of us!

These are just a few of the many feel good stretches you can do to wake up the body and increase flexibility.

Click here for my Basic Stretching and Strengthening Routine.

You can contact me at pilatesandposture@gmail.com with questions.

Happy Stretching!

Alison Marsh

Resources:

Ramsay, Craig Anatomy of Stretching: A Guide to Increasing your Flexibility


Leave a comment

Stretch it OUt!

I never struggled with injury problems because of my preparation –
in particular my stretching.
– Edwin Moses – Olympic Gold Medalist-Track and Field

During my days at Follies, where I performed as an acro-dancer (a dancer who does gymnastics in the show) I was one of only a few dancers on stage 30 min before show time running around the stage to warm-up. After about 5 min of running I would plop onto the floor and begin my stretching warm-up.

Folies Bergere: The Can-Can Dress

Folies Bergere: The Can-Can Dress

Unlike most of the dancers in the show, I am not naturally limber. I have always had to work at getting my splits and backbends, and properly prepare my body for what it was about to endure: jumping, running, leaping, tumbling, with sharp directional changes, mostly in heals, with the exception of the tumbling number: The Can-Can, which required us to wear a ten pound dress (see pic).

Everybody is different

So why are some people more flexible then others? There are several factors when it comes to how flexible someone is.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Life-style (how active a person is) certainly affect how flexible a person is.
  • Some people genetically have more limber joints.
  • People who tend to live care-free lives may be more limber due to decreased muscle tension.

Being too limber can cause issues. If the joints and ligaments are too loose, they fail to properly support the body.

For example, during pregnancy, the body is flooded with hormones that prepare the body for the growing fetus and the birth. Therefore, pregnant woman are more prone to strains and sprains.  (Click Here for more on Pilates during pregnancy)

I have had clients who come to me with flexible joints, but tight muscles. With these clients we work towards stabilizing the joints through muscle control and proper stretching which I discuss below.

Why Stretch?

Stretching is the best thing you can do for your body (in addition to other healthy lifestyle choices such as cardiovascular training, proper diet, and healthy relationships.) Experts say, if you don’t do anything else, just stretch! It is the most natural movement the body engages in.

Let’s think about an animal- cat or dog, maybe. Whats one of the first things they do after a sleep session? They reach their front legs out in front of them and reach their tails behind them, lengthening their spines, preparing to move! Humans also instinctively do this when they reach their arms up to the sky after a long nights sleep.

We are constantly using our muscles to perform activities of daily living (ADLs).

  • Walking requires the use of the core, upper and lower limbs.
  • Driving requires the use of the upper body, legs and feet.
  • Dressing and Grooming requires coordination, balance, and use of the upper limbs
  • Parents with babies and/or toddlers endure the constant increase of weight of the baby.
  • Yard work, laundry, dishes

This list could go on and on. Consider also your profession. What specific movements (or non-movements) are you engaging in on a regular basis? All of this constant repetitive motion with no relief puts the body at serious risk for pain and injury.

Here a just a few of the many Benefits of Stretching:

  • Increased Energy-Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, helping us to feel alert
  • Reduced pain-many sources of pain come from tight muscles
  • Improved Posture-tight muscles restrict the spine
  • Prevent Injury-stretched muscles bounce back – think of wet clay vs. hard clay
  • Reduce Stress-Stretching relaxes the muscles and the mind!
  • Slim Down-Stretching lengthens muscle tissue, resulting in lean muscle
  • Overall Positive Sense of Well-Being – We were created to MOVE People!!

How to stretch?

Here are some tips to stretch safely and effectively:

1. Always warm up the body before stretching. 5-10 min of cardio to warm the muscles will suffice. Click here for cardio ideas.

2. Breath Through Stretches 20-30 seconds

How to Breath:

1. Inhale through the nose, filling the lungs by focusing the breath into the back like your filling a balloon (your diaphragm)

  • Back of the ribs should expand
  • Allow the chest to rise,
  • The front of the ribs should drop down by keeping the belly softly back
  • (This is Pilates breathing-allowing for continuous engagement of the abs.)

2. Exhale through the mouth, deflating the lungs of the air like deflating a balloon

  • Back of the ribs should close in
  • Belly sinks back further

3. Engage Abdominals (Belly to the Spine) primarily before and during movement from one position to the other. Remain aware of Belly to the Spine throughout stretches and exercises.

4. Think of your muscles like rubber bands. To achieve the most efficient stretch you have to achieve oppositional pull; pulling each end of the muscle you are stretching away from each other.

5. Relax into your stretch. If the stretch is too painful, you will clench up, defeating the purpose of stretching.

There are several ways to stretch.

Here is one of my favorite stretches for the chest, hips, and back-Twist Stretch!

Twist Stretch-Step 1-Bring Knee to Chest

Twist Stretch-Step 1-Bring Knee to Chest

Twist Stretch -Step 2-Knee across the body, hip up. Opposite shoulder on floor (is the goal)

Twist Stretch -Step 2-Knee across the body, hip up. Opposite shoulder on floor (is the goal)

Below is a picture of me stretching over a big ball-an amazing all over stretch. (Bend Knees to modify)

Stretchin' it OUt!

Stretchin’ it OUt on the big ball.

Click Here for a great stretch to target those tight shoulders that plague almost all of us!

These are just a few of the many feel good stretches you can do to wake up the body and increase flexibility.

Click here for my Basic Stretching and Strengthening Routine.

You can contact me at alisonbmarsh07@gmail.com with questions.

Happy Stretching!

Alison Marsh

Resources:

Ramsay, Craig Anatomy of Stretching: A Guide to Increasing your Flexibility